Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Created a New Classic From the Great American Songbook

The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan, December 30

Photo by Ethan Miller

Photo by Ethan Miller

It was the platonic ideal of New Year’s Eve parties: an elegant theater with chandelier garlands; a big band (22 musicians onstage, not counting the two stars); ladies in furs and sparkles; gold confetti; flowing Champagne; and, most importantly, jazz standards sung by a legend and a pop star.

Tony Bennett, 88, and Lady Gaga, 28, lived up to the ideal. Bennett played himself. Gaga—in a rotating ensemble of retro, flamboyant gowns and wigs—played a character mash-up of Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Ella Fitzgerald and Jessica Rabbit. Their chemistry—part gently lecherous great uncle and part professional mutual admiration—simmered.

Gaga’s rich singing voice shined in a way it never quite does as a pop star. But with the focus on classic standards (“Anything Goes,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “The Lady Is a Tramp”) and Bennett solos (“Smile,” “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”), it was firmly Bennett’s show. When Gaga did solo (“Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”), it was an effort to re-create that perennially lost golden age of yore. This was great for a night that was as much about reliving Old Vegas glamour, but the evening would’ve been improved by a jazzy rearrangement of Gaga’s own “Poker Face” or “Born This Way.” While it was cool to see Gaga go old school, it would’ve been ever cooler to see Bennett go new. Beyond that one missed opportunity, it was an enchanting evening of American classics with that rich big-band sound. And perhaps, “The Best Is Yet to Come.” ★★★★✩



Anything Goes
Cheek to Cheek
They All Laughed
The Good Life (Bennett solo)
The Lady’s in Love With You (Bennett solo)
Nature Boy
How Do You Keep the Music Playing? (Bennett solo)
Sing, You Sinners
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (Gaga solo)
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (Gaga solo)
Smile (Bennett solo)
Stepping Out With My Baby (Bennett solo)
I Won’t Dance
For Once in My Life (Bennett solo)
The Best Is Yet to Come (Bennett solo)
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
Lush Life (Gaga solo)
Sophisticated Lady (Bennett solo)
Watch What Happens (Bennett solo)
Let’s Face the Music and Dance
Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (Gaga solo)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco (Bennett solo)
Who Cares (Bennett solo)
But Beautiful
The Lady is a Tramp
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

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